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Page:The despatches of Hernando Cortes.djvu/74

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52 LETTERS OF CORTES. sent, who assured me that these men knew nothing of what had taken place ; that it had proceeded from the common people, who had acted without authority from them ; and that they were grieved and would pay for the horses that had been killed, being desirous of be- coming our friends ; and that we should be well received by them as soon as an opportunity offered. I answered them that I acknowledged their kindness and would con- sider them as friends, and proceed according to their ad- vice. The same night I was compelled to sleep on the banks of a rivulet, one league in advance of the battle- ground, both on account of the lateness of the hour and the fatigue of the troops. I remained there with the ut- most caution, stationing a watch and guard both of horse and foot until it was daylight, when I took up the line of march, having placed in order of battle the vanguard and main body, preceded by the runners. Having reached a small settlement just as the sun was rising, the two other messengers came in with lamentations, saying that they had been bound for the purpose of be- ing put to death, but that they had made their escape in the night. And not two stones' throw from them a great number of Indians began to appear, well armed and utter- ing loud cries, and commenced an attack upon our people, discharging many darts and arrows. I undertook to make a formal appeal to them through the interpreters that I had brought with me instead of a notary. But the more I delayed for the purpose of reasoning with them and inducing peace, the more eager they seemed to give us all the annoyance in their power. Seeing that they did not regard our overtures, we endeavored to de- fend ourselves as well as we could ; and thus they drew us on while engaged in fighting, until we found ourselves